DEK: The real issues that businesses, local artists and employees are facing now—how their creative and collaborative solutions are helping maintain community during crisis.
During the current economic and health crisis, we reached out to businesses and locals to see how they were adapting to the times. We heard industry pride from restaurateurs, optimism from boutique owners, and creators whose art is aimed to heal. But there was also concern as Boulder’s collective union of community, including jobs and businesses, has been threatened.
The mandate to close doors on all non-essential businesses began in mid-March—forcing owners to respond in real-time with fast-solutions. The hospitality industry has restructured food menus for takeaway and hosted pop-up shops for daily-use goods. New businesses like the food-court, Rosetta Hall, once a fresh place for locals to gather, are now focused entirely on to-go orders alongside many other eateries. Boutiques and apparel shops are now relying on internet sales to stay afloat, leaning into social media to promote their brands.
“For us, it’s about making everybody feel a little more connected in a time that is very disconnected,” comments Raul Pinto, co-owner of Satellite Boardshop whose doors remain closed but are actively continuing services and sales online.
An understanding from landlords and property owners is crucial at this time of financial uncertainty, and businesses have graciously taken it into their own hands to assist thousands of out-of-work employees, sharing proceeds of sales with staff and arranging comped meal services.
Laurel Tate, owner of Two Sole Sisters, reminded us that “together apart” is the mantra as of late saying, “If one does well and one survives, then we all do well. This is our time to thrive as a community.”
The artists of Boulder had to respond quickly, too, using their media to story-tell through food and photography, and even sending handmade crafts to frontline medical workers.
While we aim to retain a sense of normalcy during quarantine, we must remember our small businesses that are doing their part—and we must do ours.
HED: CONSUMING DURING QUARANTINE
DEK: Local and independent businesses innovating the way they do business to serve a community living behind closed doors.
Byline: Livia Hooson
Kimbal Musk / CEO of The Kitchen Restaurant Group
“We launched a community-wide effort called @BoulderTakeout to highlight the takeout menus of other restaurants, and we joined the swift community action of Feed The Frontlines Boulder to feed health care workers at Boulder Community Hospital while they work tireless hours. Next Door American Eatery has been boxing up hundreds of to-go meals for the health care workers.”
Raul Pinto / Owner
“It comes down to this: getting customers to understand the value of shopping locally, to help put money in your neighbors' pockets, so that they can continue to live in your neighborhood and contribute to our community.” Satellite’s young staff is still employed, keeping the website up-to-date and ready to walk you through any and all purchases to get your kids amped about new gear for the summer season.”
Two Sole Sisters
Laurel Tate / Co-owner
“I will always rise to the challenge, which has allowed us to pivot quickly from a brick and mortar to offering creative ways of selling. We are directly connecting to customers—giving our cell phone numbers and letting them know that this is personal. Text us about what you want—and let us help.” Instagram is their source of relationship right now and where their engagement is the strongest. You can do personal FaceTime fittings with Laurel and Lindsey as they are your virtual models showcasing everything from heels to high-tops.
Dining Hall and Music Venue
Right now, each restaurant stall is down to one owner/operator with their independent chefs prepping food for pick-up and delivery. They have personally hired locals for their in-house delivery service to minimize cost for them and their customers. One of the rarest commodities in Boulder are the farmers and ranchers, which the business aims to protect as there is concern around the impact this will have on them, making your purchase even more important to the success of the entire community. They have offered their entire staff, around 100 employees, some financial relief by providing them each with two weeks of pay.
Infused, A CBD Marketplace
Paul Talbot / Owner
“We are here to help you manage your sleep, stress, anxiety and pain during this time. Our storefront is open for business, and to take all precautions we have a hand-washing policy before entering the store, a non-touch checkout method and our staff will handle all the products themselves while educating you about what you are buying.” In addition to sales dropping, they are dealing with the difficulty of receiving financial support, like small business loans. The most important thing right now is to engage with other small businesses, the community and to remind people to shop locally versus big box stores.
Peter Waters / Operational Owner
“Our whole goal is to break even, keep money in my staff’s pockets, and survive this storm because when we come out of this, we want to be ready to roll. We have built a successful restaurant because of our staff, and we’re not about to turn our backs on the people who made it all possible.” Their fan-favorite tacos are now in the form of tasty to-go burritos. Don’t miss their takeaway 30-ounce mason jars batched with margaritas (about six margs in each) selling for $30. To offset the financial challenges employees are facing, The Well Church is conducting a fundraising campaign among its congregation. They match the first $2,000 in donations, and T/aco’s staff will be the recipient of these donations."
Zoe Ma Ma / Chimera
Edwin Zoe / Owner
“This industry is the stage for our community, and so far, the only support many of us have received is that borrowing money makes it easier, which is not a long-term solution. Regarding Chimera, which has had to temporarily shutter its doors, we plan to come out of this crisis with new and creative concepts, better for us and for you—our customers.” Regarding Zoe Ma Ma, customers can get healthy servings of affordable food, like fresh egg noodles and vegetables for only $7.00. Zoe Ma Ma is open for pick-up and delivered meals, while its Denver location is primarily serving food to families in need.
Elliott Toan / Owner & Operator
“This is a labor-intensive industry, which is a beautiful part of the industry and a necessary function of the economy. Workers need protection, social safety nets and new structures to help independent businesses. We are working with Conscious Alliance and BVSD to identify families who are at risk for food and security, by serving 20-30 meals a day, oftentimes to households with up to 12 people.” Arcana’s pay-what-you-can menu is priced from $0 and is available for pick-up—a way to honor the community by bringing meals to all.
Michelle DeHaven / Owner
“We’ve had to shift our goals significantly and re-think our orders for fall and winter. This is a hard time for us and for our showrooms, vendors, the makers and the artists.” Haven is hustling hard behind closed doors along with all of the boutique businesses we love in Boulder. Haven is offering free local delivery, FaceTime appointments, curbside pickup, discounts for shoppers and sending out boxes for VIP customers.
Jake Novotny / General Manager and Partner
“We are a community bar. Our prices are affordable. I think we are right where we want to be when the closures are lifted. We want to be that place where people can finally gather, hug it out and grab a beer in close proximity to one another.” Bars have directly been affected as they operate under the on-premise liquor laws. Fortunately, new legislation has allowed them to now offer sealed alcoholic beverages to-go. Jungle’s best-selling cocktails QuaranTIKI’s are available for takeaway. Plus, all of the tips go straight into the employees' pockets.
OZO Coffee Company
Justin Hartman / Owner & CEO
“We know how to make coffee really well, and we don’t want to stop. Although we have had to reduce hours with a skeleton crew, we are doing free delivery for online purchases around Boulder and selling bulk coffee bags.” Ozo's recent pop-up shop is selling whole bean coffee at a major discount, with proceeds going to the OZO Employee Fund. Ozo is also keeping up monthly donations of its delicious coffee to shelters in Boulder and Denver.
Mecha Resistance & Cardio+
Bri Taylor (Resistance Director and Teacher)
“Our classes at Mecha are hard, and a big part of the experience is sticking with it even when you want to quit, then celebrating your hard work with those around you. Our instructors have worked together to create donation-based online content for our community via Zoom, YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook. It's great to know that through technology, we have the ability to provide a sense of wellness for people who are living in a world of uncertainty. Virtually, we can all experience some grain of normalcy through familiar voices and faces. We really are all in this together.”
HED: INSPIRE THROUGH ACTION
DEK: How three artists are using their craft to capture, create and educate during COVID-19.
Byline: Livia Hooson
Emma Garschagen: emmagarschagen.weebly.com
For Alex Beal, photography is the art of capturing subjects which requires close interaction like intimate portraits of local brands. Now that social distancing has become the safest way for us to navigate the current epidemic, there is a space forced between us, requiring artists to examine their approach in a new light. Beal, a 24-year-old Boulder-born resident, does freelance photography and marketing and has the fortune of working from home during quarantine. His passion for capturing life has led him outdoors to the desolate streets of Boulder.
"For the first time in my life it feels like I’m living through a significant moment in history,” he says.
Shooting on a clunky medium format 645 Maymia with an astounding depth of field, Beal will have to wait until dark rooms reopen to see the images caught. Art mimics life here as these black-and-white stills hold the same unknowing outcome as the epidemic itself.
Alongside his partner, Emma Garschagen who is a local painter, Beal has the time to explore the media he has strayed from over the years, like collaborating on the canvas as a way to find togetherness.
“I have found solace in picking up a paint brush again," Beal shares. "I think this time presents an opportunity, for those fortunate enough to keep working, to create some beauty from the confines of our home.”
Storyteller / Comino Food Stories
Originally from the mountainous city of Monterrey in Mexico, Jimena Zamora has called Boulder her home for nearly a decade and is the birthplace of her multi-media brand, Comino Food Stories. From podcasts to photographs to clever food puns, Zamora says that at Comino, “We are creating moments where people outside and inside the community can come together and find commonality in each other through food.”
Her YouTube series, "Hospitality Heroes," highlights stand-out individuals in the restaurant business and the craft and culture around food—the exact thing that is being threatened right now.
“I don’t think any of us knows what the future will hold, but if anything, I do know that the Boulder community is aggressively supportive and wants to thrive from this.”
Zamora’s creative role as narrator and documenter has taught her to adapt and decision-make. So, Comino is currently doing its part by supporting local restaurants, bars and small businesses through online shout-outs reminding residents to shop locally. Comino has also created an interactive map, along with other food bloggers, about what businesses in Colorado are doing pickup and delivery.
“We want to acknowledge the individuals who got us into the industry in the first place, whose passion goes beyond most. This is why we’re here—to share their story.”
Designer, Natural Dyer and Educator
You may know Edie Ure from her sustainable hand-dyed pillows and linens sold in shops around Colorado. The London native has resided in Boulder with her kids for 13 years now while hand-making products with raw and found materials that stand out in a world of plastic replicas. Now, Ure is busy leading projects aimed at educating others on the necessity of working more conscientiously with the environment.
“We have become a material culture, not having a concept of the origination of something or the process it took to create it. This virus has led us to come home to ourselves and illuminated the fragile aspects of human economic life that is not designed to harmonize with laws of nature.”
Since the pandemic, Ure has distributed seeds and plants across Colorado, inspiring others to grow their own gardens. She has also developed online tutorials to demonstrate how to dye material with compost waste, like avocado pits and onion skins. Her home-school project connects local littles to grow and care for their own indigo plants, which can then be used to dye scarves at-home. She has shipped precious silk-made pillow cases to medical workers on the frontlines and is promoting people to grow their own vegetables alongside local florists, Reverie Fields.
“By growing things, we support the local ecosystem, promoting soil health which is beneficial to the climate. I think everything has to change. We need to learn how to support our local community and buy from farmers and small businesses.”
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